Greater impact of advisor-farmer interactions through improved tools for whole-farm evaluation
In 2010 twenty-seven farm management teams conducted annual whole farm mass nutrient balances and two farms collaborated in the design of easier to track record-keeping tools that allow improved data management and with-in year and year-end data summaries.
Seventeen dairy and crop producers and 13 farm advisors evaluated farm information using the beta-versions of a suite of whole farm nutrient use efficiency tools. Discussions were held during on-farm meetings on how the information might impact farm decision-making during the next crop season.
Feedback from farmer meetings guided the final development phase of four nutrient use assessment tools with capabilities of summarizing farm nutrient use information into formats that had been identified as easily understood, engaging and naturally leading to strategic planning discussions with farm management personnel. Support documents and curriculum are being completed for each of the tools
Training modules will be used in 2011 at professional farm-advisor trainings and university agronomy classes at Cornell and SUNY Cobleskill.
Farm nutrient use data (mass nutrient balance, feed and fertilizer imports, corn stalk nitrate test results, manure and fertilizer application rates, manure nutrient analyses) were collected at the end of the 2010 crop season to monitor farm nutrient use decisions.
Interviews to gauge use of the newly designed tools throughout the industry and impacts to farm nutrient use and public and private farm advising programs are expected to take place after the 2011 winter meetings.
Fifteen farm advisors will adopt the use of the tools over two years. The use of the tools will create positive farmer-advisor communication of complex issues relating to nutrient use efficiency and environmental protection. The resulting advisor-farmer discussions will lead to agri-environmental evaluation of 30 dairy or cash-grain farms of which at least 10 farms will improve one of four farm agri-environmental measures: (1) mass nutrient balance, (2) farm operational density, (3) feed use efficiency, or (4) fertilizer imports, while 10 farms will improve two of the four indicators. In addition, curriculum will be developed to teach the use of whole farm agri-environmental indicators for improved farm management through collaborations with SUNY Alfred and SUNY Cobleskill.
Four on-farm meetings and two group meetings were held in 2010 reaching 17 farm management teams and directly involving thirteen farm advisors. Discussions about farm-specific nutrient strategies were aided in each meeting by the use of whole farm mass balance results, charts that displayed farm-wide soil test trends over time for P and K fertility management, and results of nitrogen management analyses for corn (ISNT and CSNT). The reporting formats for farm-wide soil test trends over time for P and K fertility management and the ISNT-CSNT were well received by farm advisors and are already being integrated into farm advising programs. The use of farm maps in nutrient management decision-making and implementation were the focus of 2010 crop season discussions with farm teams giving input on how the maps are used, the best presentation format and information that should be included. This information was used to develop farm map booklets for eight farms that will be discussed at each farm’s 2011 winter meeting.
Four training modules are being completed: (1) Manure Value, Cost and Time Management, (2) Liming Guidelines for New York State and (3) Nitrogen Management Evaluation for Corn, (4) Whole Farm Nutrient Use. Each training module consists of eight parts:
1.Tool (Software and Data Collection Sheet)
5.Background Lecture (1 hour)
6.Tutorial Workbook Teaching Guide; Software Demonstration (1 hour)
7.Tutorial Workbook Teaching Guide; Instructional Examples (1 hour)
8.Tutorial Workbook Teaching Guide; Advanced Exercises (1 hour)
In addition to the work above, 27 farms management teams conducted whole farm mass nutrient balances and two farms collaborated in the design of improved and easier to track record-keeping tools that allow improved data management and data summaries.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
The reporting formats for farm-wide soil test trends over time for P and K fertility management and the ISNT-CSNT were well received by farm advisors and are already being integrated into some farm advising programs and improvements in mass balances over time are already visible. Interviews to gauge use of the newly designed tools throughout the industry and impacts to farm nutrient use and public and private farm advising programs are expected to take place after the 2011 winter meetings.
Professor and Chair
State Route 7
Cobleskill, NY 12043
Office Phone: 5182555280